Sarabeth Kalajian reflects on 35 years with the Sarasota County library system

County library director fell into a career she loved almost by accident

While she avoids counting down the days until she retires next month as director of Sarasota County Libraries and Historical Resources, Sarabeth Kalajian is busy racing to meetings, helping ease the transition to her successor and humbly accepting thanks for her 35 years of service at farewell gatherings.

“I’m staying until the end of September and every day until then is full to overflowing with dates that are important,” she says while taking a rare chance to sit and talk about her long tenure with the county library system.

There are still things to do, like meeting with the County Commission over funding for the system, and helping to launch a new student library card that will use student ID numbers as a virtual library card number. “We’re getting ready to roll that out,” she said. “We’ve been working on that for a couple of years to let teachers and students borrow any of our digital content just by using their student or teacher number.”

Digital content is one of the many drastic shifts in library operations since Kalajian started as youth services librarian in Venice in 1984, launching an unexpected career that included time as youth services director at Selby Public Library, head librarian at Fruitville Library and eventually director of the entire system beginning in 2006.

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